"Welcome to where time stands still, no one leaves and no one will." -Metallica/Welcome Home (Sanitarium)

The line between collecting and hoarding is a thin one, one I’ve straddled for many years. Although hoarding is tough to define in a single sentence, I personally think of it as acquiring things I’ll never “do” anything with. And I’m pretty liberal when it comes to “doing” something with a thing — even displaying things counts as doing something with them to me. It’s those items I buy that come home and sit out in the garage for years that worry me. To me, hoarding is when I’ve acquired so many things that the stress of owning those things is greater than the enjoyment I get from owning them.

For several years I bought every old joystick, video game console, game cartridge, and old computer I ran cross “in the wild” — garage sales, antique malls, and thrift stores, for the most part. For some reason I felt like I was rescuing these things and giving them a home, although being packed away in dark boxes or sitting out in my garage gathering dust isn’t much of a home. In the mid-1990s there was no market tp speak of for 10-20 year old game consoles and computers. I ran across those things being sold for a few bucks every time I left the house and as a result I stocked up on them. I ended up with dozens of “spare” gaming consoles and retro computers. Some I used, some I sold, some I gave away, some I trashed, and some I stowed away for “doing something” with “someday.” This weekend was one of those somedays.

Throughout the 90s I purchased five Apple IIe computers at various thrift stores — four regular ones and one black Bell and Howell model. One or maybe two of them were purchased before I moved to Spokane, which means at a minimum they’ve been stored at my house in El Reno, my apartment in Spokane, and the three houses I”ve lived in since I moved back to Yukon from Washington state. Of the five machines, one works great, one sort of works, two produce video garbage when connected to a monitor and powered up, and one (the Bell and Howell) is completely dead. The one that fully works has been up in my computer room for a while now — it’s the one I installed the CFFA3000 in. The other four have been sitting out in garage, waiting.

I decided this weekend to see if I could get the three semi-working Apple IIe machines combined into a single working one. Each of them has their own problems so I decided to go with the cosmetically best looking case. The irony in that is that the machine has a couple of prices written on the top in grease pencil. The first is $3.98; that’s been crossed out and $1.98 has been written beneath that. I bought it on a 50% off day, so I paid 99 cents for it.

Spread across the three machines were a total of three cards: two 80 column/memory expansion cards and one floppy drive controller. I was also able to borrow enough keys from the other two machines to make one complete keyboard. The keyboard is a bit wonky at times — lots of repeating characters and some keys have to be pressed much harder than others — but I’m hoping a good cleaning later this week will remedy that. I have a couple of spare floppy drives in a box (somewhere) that I’ll also try hooking up later in the week.

This blog post doesn’t have a great ending because this story is not over yet. Over the next few weeks I’ll keep messing around with the machine until I get it fully functional. After that I’m not sure what I’ll do with it (I already have a working Apple IIe up in my computer room, remember). I guess I’ll figure that out when I get to it. For the time being, I’ll just enjoy cleaning the dust off of this one and getting it back into working order.

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2 Responses to “An Apple IIe Hoard…”

  1. J Feinberg says:

    I was raised on Commodores. We had a PET at home in the late 70′s, then a VIC-20 in the early 80′s, and then Commodore 64s through the rest of the 80′s. When I was a grad student in the early 90′s, I had accumulated a collection of 5 c64′s that didn’t work. The c64 does have a reputation for some of the chips going bad. I think the video chip and the sound chip were particularly vulnerable. In any case, I pulled all of the mounted chips from all five computers and kept track of where they went. I then started mixing and matching. In the end, I got one of those c64s to work! The dead c64s I gave to some guy in a computer store, and the live c64 was then carefully placed on a shelf. It moved with me to my first rental house after I got out of college, and then I carefully lost track of it.

    If I still lived in a house, I would certainly be walking that fine line between hoarding and collecting. The drive is there. However, I live in an apartment, and the only physical thing I collect is state quarters (both P & D, thank you very much). But the collecting is still going on! Before I moved, I digitized each and every CD I owned, even the crappy ones. I digitized all of my Top 40 tapes from the 80s. When I moved into my wife’s apartment, there was a 4-drawer filing cabinet full of random papers that were hers, her mothers, and her sisters. I scanned and shredded each and every page in that cabinet, and now it’s all sitting on my hard drive. OK, in that case, my ulterior motive was to have four drawers of storage for bicycle tools and parts. Likewise, every bill and memo we get is scanned and shredded.

  2. J Feinberg says:

    I’ve got two bankers boxes full of Palm gear. There’s probably about 30 working Palm V’s in there, maybe 5 Treo 700p’s, and about 10 m500/505/515 units. Also lots of chargers, cases, cables, GPS, custom car mounts,1 blah, blah, blah. I used the Palm stuff for a long, long time, and 2 bankers boxes isn’t too bad.

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